Mexican Wedding Cookies with Anise: Pastelitas de Boda con Anís

IMG_0278Bizcochitos are anise studded Mexican sugar cookies. I combined this idea with the recipe for  Mexican Wedding Cookies I found in Joy of Cooking. It made a tasty cookie even more delicious. These are a special treat at Christmastime which melts in your mouth with a lovely anise flavor.

Ingredients:

Anise

1 cup shelled pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies in

1 Tb vanilla

1 teaspoon anise seeds

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

raosted pecansSpread pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Let cool on a plate. Run in food processor until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdery or oily.

whip butterBeat softened butter, add salt, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add pecans and anise, and beat until they are incorporated into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and slowly beat just until well blended.

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Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll 1 inch balls between your palms and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies at 350′ for 12-15 minutes until tinged with golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through for even browning.

Place baking sheet on a rack to cool until the cookies begin to firm. Then slide the parchment paper to the rack for cookies to cool completely.

roll in powdered sugarRoll cooled cookies in 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar to coat them.

Hanukkah and Christmas Orange-Nutty Cookies

Chanukah and Christmas Cookies on plate

This mufti-denominational cookie is based on my mom’s Hanukkah cookie recipe. I added some grated orange zest to heighten the fruity notes. The nuts are optional, but I love the crunch of nuts in cookies.

You can soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds if you forgot to leave it out to soften! Crush nuts by pulsing in the food processor or rolling them with a rolling pin as my mom did. They should be tiny, but not pulverized into powder.

Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated orange zest (the orange part of the peel) of one orange

1 Tb orange juice

2 eggs

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup crushed walnuts and/ or pecans

1-2 tsp demerara sugar (coarse brown sugar)

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add orange zest and juice and beat again.

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix until combined with the moist ingredients. Stir in nuts until incorporated into the dough.

???????????????????????????????Roll the dough into a large ball, then flatten into a disk with your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ½ hour. This will harden the butter and make the dough easier to roll.

Preheat the oven to 375◦.

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Lightly flour a wooden board and the rolling pin. Grab a few handfuls of dough and roll it out to about 1/8 inch. Dip cookie cutters in flour, then shake out, to prevent the dough from sticking on them, and then cut out shapes.

Oil an insulated cookie sheet with canola oil. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies with a pinch of demerara sugar to make them sparkle. Bake the cookies at 375◦ for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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For chocolate drizzle, melt 1/3 cup bittersweet dark chocolate chips in the microwave in a heatproof ceramic or glass bowl. Heat for one minute, stir thoroughly, then heat 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds until almost all melted, and stir well. Remove from microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes, then drizzle over cookies.

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